Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

A Purpose in the Pain

It has occurred to me on more than one occasion (and maybe it has to you as well) that our sufferings in life have a purpose.  We hate it so much.  Suffering.  It hurts.  It’s scary.  And while we’re in it we just want it to stop.  Whether it’s physical or emotional or anywhere in between.  But through it we learn.  We learn about ourselves.  And we learn about others.

We mustn’t hurry off now to make some nice warm fuzzy realizations here, because the pain we go through is real and needs to be validated.  And we shouldn’t just rush through the sucky parts so that we can see that silver lining or get to the light at the end of the tunnel, because we need to allow ourselves to experience the low down dirty nitty gritty of it all in order get out of it whatever its purpose is.

There is a fine line here though because although we can wallow for a time, we have to be careful not to get stuck there.  We do learn while we’re wallowing though.  And even if we get into self pity ~ we learn there too.  During our wallowing we may make some bad choices because when we’re feeling low we may want to.  And guess what?  We learn from those too.  The wallowing process is different for everyone, and the amount of time we spend there varies as well.

And on the other end of that spectrum, we can try and “be positive” but we also have to be careful not to be fakey about it.  We need to be authentic and not just put on a “happy face” for the outside world to see.  There is a lot to be said for surrounding yourself with positive things when you’re going through a difficult time.  I have found this to be very helpful, and because I am generally a very optimistic person I usually tend to take this route.  I will often go out and buy myself flowers or do other nurturing types of things for myself when I’m hurting.  But at the same time, if someone asks me how I am, I am careful not rush to the typical response of “I’m fine” when I’m really not.  That is actually a pet peeve of mine ~ when people add “How are you?” to the end of their greeting of “Hello” when they have neither the time to listen nor do they really even care.  But I won’t get into that right now (heck, that deserves its own separate post).  Sometimes I’ll just roll over that question and not answer it, or simply say “OK” ~ because hey… I’m alive and breathing, so for the most part that can be summed up as being OK right?

But what is the purpose of the pain we endure in our lives?

I think a lot of it is about growth.  We are like the plants, only different.  Lets see if I can adequately describe the analogy that is forming in my mind…

Imagine a seed.  All of its life force trapped inside a hard shell.  But the seed isn’t meant to stay a seed.  It’s meant to be something else.  Something living.  Something growing.  Something bearing fruit.  Something that adds to the rest of the world.  Something to benefit the other “things” living and growing around it.

But in order to fulfill its purpose, it has to emerge and come out of its shell.  It may be painful ~ the delicate life breaking through the hard shell.  And the pain doesn’t stop there because once it finally emerges, there are oh so many other difficulties it experiences as it strives to grow ~ to fulfill its purpose.

Rain comes.  The rain brings with it, life.  But too much rain and the plant can drown.  Storms may come and the plant may struggle to keep its roots planted firmly in the soil as the winds blow.  And hail may come and beat down upon it, damaging it, sometimes seemingly beyond repair.  Insects may come and eat away at its tender leaves and fruits, even at its stem, threatening its very life.  And sometimes the plant gets cut down.  On purpose.  Pruning is painful, but necessary to produce more growth.

I know you can see the similarities here.  We too deal with all of those same things ~ only on a much more complex level, of course.

The storms, the wind, and the hail, may be the various trials of life.  And unfortunately we have no control over the “weather.”  We get blown around and beaten down.  But these trials serve to teach us.  To help us grow.  To show us what we’re made of ~ that we have what it takes.  And we can only continue to strive to survive through it all.

The insects may be disease.  And although we may have some natural immunities for fighting off certain diseases, sometimes an “infestation” occurs.  Modern medicine can work as a “pesticide” (that is exactly what chemo reminds me of in regard to cancer :().  Sometimes there are natural “remedies” that can help (like the garlic/pepper spray I just made for my plants the other day).  Sometimes the damage the “insects” cause to our bodies is beyond repair and severely weakens our physical form, but we still have our minds so therefore we can still “grow” and learn.

And finally pruning.  Pruning is so hard.  Because it’s intentional.  And it’s so painful.  If you are a person of faith as I am, you may wonder “God, ouch!  This hurts way too much.  Why?”  The answer I hear… to put it simply, and to repeat myself once again ~ is growth.  Pruning makes us grow.  Stronger.  More “fruitful.”  And as I grow as a person within my own self, I gain more understanding, more empathy.  I become more effective at reaching out and being a help and a source of light to those in the world around me.

We may not ever know how our lives, our story, with its various struggles, impacts the lives of others, but I have to believe that somehow it does ~ and maybe that is the purpose of the pain.


And sometimes some pretty amazing and beautiful things are born out of pain…


Besides…  what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.